The NZ Computer Society is making a renewed effort to spark collaboration among the multiple trade and professional organisations in the ICT sector.
A national computing conference jointly organised by the NZCS and some of the other bodies, is among major results expected of such a cooperative effort. NZCS CEO Paul Matthews hopes to kick this off as early as next year.
Closer at hand is a plan for a online shared events calendar, where members of any of the organisations can go to see what all of them have planned.
Logically this should lead to a rationalisation of the timetable, where organisations planning similar events on a similar timescale will prefer to collaborate on a single event, sharing resources such as rooms and equipment and splitting cost and income.
Matthews says that he is already in discussion with a number of organisations, but declines to say which at this point.
InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar confirms that his organisation is working with NZCS on collaborative activities, starting with the combined events calendar. There is a move to increase the amount of cooperation between the two organisations and potentially others in the industry, he says.
Computer systems to maintain mailing lists and membership subscriptions could be combined, Matthews says; certainly the Society has such systems that could be adapted to the needs of other organisations.
NZCS is ideally placed to be the “foundation” organisation of such a joint effort, he says, since its membership is broad-ranging with no fixed loyalties to a particular sector of the industry; “for example, we are not heavily aligned either to open-source or to proprietary software.
“We have spoken with about a dozen bodies,” Matthews says, and only one has some reservations about the idea of a joint conference. Some of the organisations have a constitution that obliges them to hold an annual conference; combining the events into one will obviously save cost, but will still allow semi-independent conference streams on specific topics.”
A joint body for the ICT industry is an ill-starred concept. From 2005 to 2007 a collaborative body called ICT-NZ was planned, with some friction over the roles each constituent organisation would play. The effort collapsed when the Labour-led government withdrew funding. A Digital Development Council and Digital Development Forum were then planned, while the vendor community separately developed what became ICTNZ. DDC/DDF was terminated with the change of government.
Is this an attempt to revivify the DDC plan? “Yes and no,” says Matthews. The DDC was conceived as having a broad public face; the contemplated new collaboration is seen at this stage as a specifically ICT-industry effort.